AZUSA, Calif. – Former Cougar standout and NAIA All-American Peder Moore has been named to the NAIA All-Decade Football Team as selected by College Fanz Sports Network.
Moore, a 4-year nose guard who spearheaded arguably the greatest defense in Azusa Pacific history – the 2004 squad, is 1 of 31 NAIA greats named to the all-decade first team for athletes who played at NAIA schools from 2000 to 2009. Moore’s line mate for 2 years Nick Tavaglione also was named to the all-decade squad as a second teamer as was wide receiver great Jon Davis.
“I feel honored to be on the list,” said Moore, who currently is a physical education teacher at East Whittier Middle School and continues to serve as Azusa Pacific’s defensive line coach. “I played against a lot of the guys on the all-decade team, and I know how good they are, so it’s an honor to be listed with them.”
As a 2004 senior, Moore was named NAIA All-American after leading a Cougar defense that yielded just under 10 points a game and produced an NAIA-leading 55 quarterback sacks. Azusa Pacific went 11-3 on the season and advanced to the NAIA playoff semifinal, losing in the final minute to eventual national champion Carroll College, 14-10. Moore tallied 89 tackles on the season, including 17.5 for loss of which 7.5 were QB sacks.
While he enjoyed many great moments, he shined the most in the big games. In the 2004 NAIA postseason, Moore and his defensive mates held 2 of the NAIA’s top 4 offenses to a combined 3 points. They shutout Northwestern Oklahoma, 16-0, and Moore scored the game’s only TD by returning a fumble. The following week, the Cougars defeated No. 1-ranked and undefeated University of Sioux Falls, 24-3, holding USF to just 113 yards of total offense. Moore posted a career-high 10 tackles in the game, including 3.5 for loss.
“I played in a lot of great games, and it’s hard to pick out one or two, but the Sioux Falls game was really special,” said Moore.
Twice during the 2004 season, Moore went head-to-head against All-Decade teammate Kyle Baker, a center from Carroll College. The 2 players staged extraordinary battles that caught the attention from fans on both sides of the field.
“If I had played on the o-line, I would have wanted to play like Kyle,” said Moore. “He always played hard and he never quit. He was the best player I ever went up against.”
At the close of the 2004 season, Azusa Pacific established the “Peder Moore Award” in honor of his play and leadership.
“The award was a surprise, and it was rather surreal to have it named after me. I tried to set a mark for hard work and dedication, so I was honored that the coaches recognized me in that way.”
Moore came to Azusa Pacific as a true freshman in 2000 after not playing football for 2 years since his senior year in high school. He was only 6-foot and 200 pounds and felt he needed some time to mature before he returned to the game. It was that 2-year absence from the game that fueled his fire to play hard on every down.
“Around my sophomore year the coaches at Azusa Pacific told me I could be a special player, but I think it was the 2 years away from football that really got me going. I realized what a privilege it was to play the game, and I couldn’t wait to get back on the field.”
For his 4-year Cougar career, Moore registered 205 tackles in 39 games (35 starts) with 49 tackles for loss and 12 quarterback sacks.
“I played with a special group of guys,” said Moore. “We did not want to let the other guy down, and we all sold out for each other. Coach (Victor) Santa Cruz and Coach (Brian) Willmer talked about ‘playing like your hair is on fire’ and we took that to heart and made it our philosophy.”
Tavaglione was a 2-year Cougar who made highlight hits on quarterbacks, using his brute strength and unusual speed to chase down opposing signal callers. He recorded 21 quarterback sacks in just 19 games. All told, the 2-time NAIA All-American collected 109 tackles and forced 6 fumbles as a Cougar.
Davis, who came to Azusa Pacific to play basketball, instead put together one of the most remarkable football careers in program history. The 6-foot-4 wide-out was an unusual athlete who had never played football until entering his third year at Azusa Pacific. Given time, however, he produced a fabulous career and the best single-season by a Cougar wide receiver. As a 2007 junior, he was second in all of college football with a school-record 21 TD catches in 11 games, trailing only Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree (22 TDs in 13 games). Three times Davis tied the school record with 4 TD grabs in a game. For the season, he had 73 catches for 1,258 yards (17.2 avg.). He finished his career with 155 catches (third most in program history) for 2,244 yards and a school record 30 TDs.
Click here to view the complete list of the NAIA All-Decade team.